Tuesday 21 February 2023

Lot 106

Robert Race, b. 1943, Farmers Wife, a hand-operated automaton, wood, painted wood, acorn...

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Lot 106

Robert Race, b. 1943, Farmers Wife, a hand-operated automaton, wood, painted wood, acorn...

Price Realised: £442

Estimate: £100 - £150

Price realised is hammer price plus fees (30% Buyers Premium inclusive of VAT).

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Lot 106


Robert Race, b. 1943, Farmers Wife, a hand-operated automaton, wood, painted wood, acorn cup, cotton thread, approx. 20cm high, 27cm wide, 10cm deep; together with a collection of automata by the same artist, to include: Pecking Bureaucrats, pendulum toy, wood, painted wood and plywood, cotton, stone, feathers, approx. 8.5cm excluding feathers, string and stone, 36.5cm wide, 1.8cm deep; Walking Bureaucrat, push toy, painted wood and plywood, metal pin and washers, feather, approx. 58cm high, 16cm wide; Ice Cream Couple, lever toy, wood, painted wood, painted plywood, approx. 9.4cm high, 23.1cm wide; and other lever toys and pendulum toys (9)

Sir Nicholas Goodison noted:

Farmers Wife: A cockerel and three hens peck at the grain that the farmers wife is scattering from her bowl as she turns round. Ingeniously the hens necks are attached in pairs to the small weight underneath and peck when the weight is displaced by a turning flange, while the wife is turned by friction on a contrate wheel.

Pecking Bureaucrats: The two bureaucrats, their noses like beaks, their arms stowed like closed wings, their bald heads with feather crests, eagerly peck in turn at the ground, as the stone underneath is swung, tightening and relaxing the cotton attached to base of the neck of each bird, pulling the neck and head up when tight and letting it drop when relaxed. This is a variant of the traditional pecking pendulum toy, usually with hens, made all over the world. Robert Race used the bureaucrat theme in other forms, see Walking Bureaucrat push toy.

Walking Bureaucrat: This is one of several toys by Robert Race on the theme of the bureaucrat, which he has also shown as a crested bird in pendulum toys, and as an un-crested acrobat. In this case, as with the other avian figures, the arms are like folded wings and the rotating legs give a passing impression of a busy small birds waddle.


Farmers Wife: Purchased, Robert Race, exhibition Robert Race: Moving Toys an Automata, Quaker Gallery, London, January 1994.

Pecking Bureaucrats: Purchased, Museum of Naïve Art, Bath, May 1991.

Walking Bureaucrats: Gift, 1994.

Ice Cream Couple: Purchased, Robert Race, May 1992.

Note: Robert Race, b.1943, exhibits his moving toys, automata, and kinetic sculpture in Britain and internationally.He is a member and past Chairman of the British Toymakers Guild. His work often incorporates a wide range of natural, re-used, and recycled material to make objects which move in simple but interesting ways.

Roseberys do not guarantee the working order of any automata or toy.

Buyer's Premium

The buyer shall pay the hammer price together with a premium thereon of 26% up to £20,000 (31.2% inclusive of VAT), 25% from £20,001 - £500,000 (30% inclusive of VAT), 20% from £500,001 thereafter (24% inclusive of VAT). The premium price is subject to VAT at the standard rate.

VAT is not charged on the hammer price unless it is stated that there is 'VAT applicable on the hammer price at the end of the description. Buyer's premium is subject to VAT.

Qualifying living artists and the descendants of artists deceased within the last 70 years are entitled to receive a re-sale royalty each time their work is bought through an auction house or art market professional.

It applies to lots with hammer value over £1,000 as follows:
0 to £50,000 - 4%
£50,000.01 to £200,000 - 3%
£200,000.01 to £350,000 - 1%
£350,000.01 to £500,000 - 0.5%
Exceeding £500,000 - 0.25%
ARR is capped at £12,500

Please note ARR is calculated in euros. Auctioneers will apply current exchange rates.

Export of goods

Buyers intending to export goods should ascertain whether an export licence is required before bidding. Export licences are issued by Arts Council England and application forms can be obtained from its Export Licensing Unit. Details can be found on the ACE website www.artscouncil.org.uk or by phoning ACE on 020 7973 5188. The need for import licences varies from country to country and you should acquaint yourself with all relevant local requirements and provisions before bidding. The refusal of any such licences shall not permit the cancelling of any sale nor allow any delay in making full payment for the lot.

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